Archive

December 20th

Hillary Clinton's good luck

    With tempers flaring in the fight for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton can rejoice as her own campaign glides along in relative tranquility.

    In terms of her wide lead in national polls and the lack of bitterness compared to the hostility among the GOP contenders, the former first lady and secretary of state continues to enjoy a cakewalk against a self-declared socialist trying to fashion a political revolution in a liberal-to-moderate Democratic Party.

    Clinton's prime opponent, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, trails her in the run-up to the Iowa precinct caucuses by 9 percent (48 to 39) in the latest Des Moines Register poll. She has a much wider lead in national surveys, including the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, which has her ahead by 19 percent (56 to 37), with former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley at only 4 percent.

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December 19th

Those Demure Democrats

    The Republican presidential candidates have demonstrated such an appetite for debates that if I set up nine lecterns in my living room on a weeknight around 8 p.m. and chanted “carpet bomb” and “anchor baby,” they’d probably materialize en masse, even before I had time to vacuum and put out the artichoke dip.

    But I could send save-the-date cards, promise canapés by Mario Batali and recruit Adele to belt out “Hello” whenever the doorbell rang: Still the Democrats wouldn’t show up.

    What a shamefully imbalanced primary season this has been. For all their flaws and fakery, the Republican candidates have squared off frequently, at convenient hours and despite the menacing nimbus of Donald Trump’s hair; the Democratic candidates have, in contrast, hidden in a closet.

    Tuesday night’s meeting of Republicans was the fifth. The meeting of Democratic presidential candidates in a few days will be only the third.

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Fear, Loathing and Republican Debaters

    Well, the big Republican presidential debate is over and the message is clear: Be afraid. Be very afraid.

    “America has been betrayed,” began Chris Christie, setting the tone for the night, which might be described as bellicose paranoia. The betrayers were President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. His example of the terror they have wrought was the Los Angeles school system, which closed Tuesday after an email threat from someone who described himself as a Muslim terrorist.

    “Think about the mothers who will take those children tomorrow morning to the bus stop wondering whether their children will arrive back on that bus safe and sound,” Christie said darkly. “Think about the fathers of Los Angeles who tomorrow will head off to work and wonder about the safety of their wives and their children.”

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Cruz Blusters and Trump Sulks at Tense Republican Debate

    Someone needs to explain carpets to Ted Cruz.

    They’re continuous stretches of material, usually rectangular, sometimes round. They’re not staggered, interrupted, with stops, starts, holes and sharp jags so they smother and blot out only the evil bits of floor but leave adjacent, innocent ones untouched.

    When you call for carpet bombing, as Cruz did again Tuesday night, you are not outlining a strategy of pinpoint targeting or of any discernment.

    You are sounding big and bold and advocating something indiscriminate. That’s the nature of a carpet. You can’t pretend otherwise.

    Unless you’re Cruz, who can pretend just about anything.

    “You would carpet bomb where ISIS is, not a city, but the location of the troops,” he said, as if there’s no mingling and the fighters of the Islamic State are somehow clustered apart from everyone they control, extinguished with the mere dropping of a rug.

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Coke’s PR Scam Explodes

    If your car’s battery terminals are corroded, just open a can of Coca-Cola. Coke will dissolve corrosion, making your battery connections spiffy clean in a jiffy.

    Ironically, however, Coca-Cola can’t seem to clean up its own corrosive corruption structure.

    By hook or crook, the sugar-water purveyor has long battled schools, nutritionists, and parents concerned about the soda industry’s role in America’s childhood obesity epidemic. Like Big Oil’s climate-change deniers and Big Tobacco’s cancer deniers, Coke and its industry cohorts have put profiteering above public health, aggressively using everything from front groups to outright lies to keep shoving sugary drinks at children.

    Last year, Coke quietly poured $1.5 million into the Global Energy Balance Network. This quasi-academic PR front group asserts that obesity isn’t caused by high-calorie soda pushers, but by parents who fail to make their kids burn off those calories with vigorous exercise.

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After Obama's thaw, a bad year for freedom in Cuba

    Much has changed in Cuba since President Obama and the island's dictator, Raúl Castro, announced their rapprochement a year ago.

    Hundreds of millions of dollars have flowed into Cuban government coffers, due to more U.S. tourism and remittances. Havana has negotiated a generous U.S.-tolerated debt restructuring with Western creditors. You can't walk down the street in Havana, it seems, without bumping into a would-be U.S. investor. And, of course, the stars and stripes wave over a reopened U.S. Embassy in Havana.

    When it comes to the elementary freedoms that the Castro regime has denied its people since 1959, though, results are scant.

    "This year has been a bad year for us," democratic activist Antonio G. Rodiles told Post editors Tuesday. Rodiles cited a "huge increase in arbitrary arrests," as well as his own savage beating by regime thugs in July.

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A Green and Dirty Gift

    As lawmakers scurried to keep the government open and head home for the holidays, they wrapped spending and tax deals into a costly measure that highlighted our nation’s mismatched energy policies.

    Specifically, this monster bill extended and restored tax incentives for wind and solar power while lifting a ban on crude oil exports that began during Jimmy Carter’s presidency.

    On the one hand, the private sector can keep generating a growing share of the nation’s electricity from renewable, free, and non-polluting resources. On the other hand, some oil that might have stayed in the ground just became more likely to be extracted and burned.

    But the deal’s contradictory compromises won’t cancel each other out. Ultimately, the Republican-led Congress — which largely pledges its allegiance to Big Oil — wasted no time in helping the United States adhere to its commitments under the global accord sealed in Paris.

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Would Cruz be any better than Trump?

    If Ted Cruz is the Republican Party's cure for Donald Trump, the antidote may be worse than the poison.

     With polls showing the Texas senator rising to challenge the bombastic billionaire nationwide -- and zooming past him in first-in-the-nation Iowa -- the months-long bromance between the two men seems at an end. Trump raised questions Sunday about Cruz's temperament and judgment, saying he had been "frankly like a little bit of a maniac" in the Senate.

    Laugh out loud, if you will, at the idea of Trump calling anyone maniacal. But the

    It was Cruz, after all, who repeatedly crossed to the other side of the Capitol and led the House Republicans toward fiscal cliff after fiscal cliff. It was Cruz who shockingly called Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a liar on the Senate floor. It was Cruz whom veteran Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., dismissed as a "wacko bird."

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Trump rallies a coalition of the descending

    Speaking to an Iowa crowd in September, Donald Trump said, it's hard to make headway in the world when "our leaders are so stupid and so incompetent and so inept."

    This has been a popular refrain from Trump. And whether applied to Washington leaders in particular or American elites in general, it isn't actually true. Yet the reason it isn't true is instructive, and more than a little alarming if you're a stereotypical Trump supporter -- white, male and without a college degree.

    If the goal in Washington really were to elevate Trump's blue-collar white males and make them feel more secure, then "stupid" would be an apt description because the opposite effect has been achieved. Average hourly wages in the U.S. have been stagnant for half a century. Median household income has only risen for those toward the top of the income distribution. Earnings for male high school graduates have plummeted since 1970.

    But who in the American power grid is actively pursuing the goal of elevating such people?

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The fringe front-runner

    In the three years since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., one of the more inexplicable aspects of its aftermath has been the persistence of the insane conspiracy theory that the killings never really happened.

    Sandy Hook "truthers" contend that the incident was either faked in its entirety, or, if it was real, was committed by the government for some sort of political effect.

    I'm an optimist about the basic decency of the American people, so I prefer to think that the Newtown "false flag" myth is too repulsive and cruel to persist organically on its own merits. As far as I can tell, the main reason it's still with us today is because it has been embraced by America's industrial-size factory farm of conspiracy theories: the radio show and Web empire of Alex Jones.

    Jones says, "Sandy Hook is a synthetic, completely fake, with actors, in my view manufactured. I couldn't believe it at first. I knew they had actors there, clearly, but I thought they killed some real kids."

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